Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wait for it...wait for it...

To folks coming over from Mason-Dixon Knitting--Welcome! Thanks for stopping by! To catch up on the back story on this sassy project, go HERE and HERE and HERE.

Please join me in a moment of silence. The daisy dukes...oh, the DUKES!...they're actually done. It's been a long and season-spanning journey. There were highs and lows, debates over pockets and waistbands, fears of binding off too soon and lily-white thighs. Progress was slow but inevitable and the siren call of knitted glory pushed me ever onward. My friends near and far, I give unto you The Daisy Dukes:

In the beginning, I kept careful notes on construction and method, diligently recorded stitch counts, and photographed the stages. In the end, though, I just started winging it. Willy nilly! Freestyle! Booty or bust! For interested knitting parties out there, the design was based on the Sweetheart Short, a free pattern over at, though I used their pattern more for method and construction than actual stitch counts. I did a swatch and worked out my gauge, sizing the dukes to fit yours truly. When I figured out how many stitches I needed to fit around my waist, I divided them in two and worked the front (with pockets) and back separately.

The pockets, oh, the pockets. Without a doubt, these pockets are my single proudest achievement as a knitter, mostly because it involved channeling my inner-nerd and figuring out slope. I debated whether to knit the pockets by hand or cut them out of an o
ld pair of jeans. I really really wanted that look of the pockets hanging out below the hemline, but the idea of knitting all that in sock yarn was a bit...daunting. In the end, I decided that cut-outs from real jeans would add a little je ne sais quoi touch of authenticity and also to reduce bulkiness in the final short. Plus I was already about on pace with the Big Dig in terms of project completion, so it was time to cut a few corners. Just like the Big Dig (oh! OUCH! BURN!).

I traced the contour of the pocket onto graph paper and compared it to my gauge-swatch to figure out number of stitches and where to increase. At this point, I realized that these dukes will be tough to duplicate because there's not a standard pocket size on jeans (or shape, for that matter). To any potential Daisy Dukers out there: It's totally worth
it to figure out how to shape those pockets. The rush when you finally get it is unbelievable. My personal Moment of Enlightenment occurred in the Logan International Airport in Boston. I believe I might have stood up with tears in my eyes and pumped my fist in the air a few times. I might have also tried to get my fellow travelers to high-five me, but since I was babbling about "Slope! And see! The pockets! The gauge! See! I used graph paper!" they kind of edged away quietly with excuses of connecting flights. Worth. It.There are some good shots of the pockets-in-progress in an earlier post HERE.

After the pocket shaping was done and I connected the front and the back, the rest of the body was worked in the round. When I got to the legs, I divided the stitches again and worked each leg separately. I did work in a few Raspy-esque rips and tears, but they didn't end up being big enough to be very noticeable. For those interested, I worked the 'rips' by increasing one and then dropping that increased stitch when I was binding off along the hem. The dropped stitch unravels and leaves a nice little rip. I considered bleaching the rips to make them more visible, but in the end I really liked the clean look of the hem.

For the waist band, I picked up stitches along the edge and increased stitches over the space where the pockets would go. I did about an inch and half of ribbing and bound off.

And last but not least, I stitched in those Pockets of Glory using a basic back stitch. All of the detailing--the faux fly and the faux back pockets--were also done in back stitch similar to the Blu pattern over on Knitty.

I feel a profound sense of satisfaction at having finished these--and finished them in time to wear at my Halloween party, none the less! I'm not sure how many occasions I will have in the future to sport these ladies, but you know? It just makes me happy to know that they exist.

Notes for Daisy Dukes: Take 2 (a.k.a Daisy Dukes: Oops I Did It Again) and/or the intrepid knitter:

*Worth it to figure out the gauge.

*Start the raspy rips and tears further up the legs
*Knit just a few more rows on the legs. I knit about an inch and I think I could have gone an inch and a half and still had the bottoms of the pockets showing. Yes, they are Daisy Dukes, but...let's just say there was a bit more of my badonkadonk showing that was strictly necessary.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Photo of the Week: Phyllo Napoleons

Chef Louise's first instruction for phyllo pastry: "Open the box."

"Maybe there are folks out there who LOVE to make phyllo pastry, she said, but not me." And so, dutiful students that we are, we all opened our boxes.

These napoleons were a lot of fun to make. I used 8 sheets of phyllo pastry and layered them with melted butter (clarified butter, or else you get brown spots), cinnamon, and sugar. I cut out rounds of dough using a cookie cutter and baked them for about 10 minutes at 350-degrees. Then I melted some chocolate and spread a thin layer on one side of the phyllo "cookies." Done!

The mousse filling was 8 oz of finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate and 8 oz of cream. Scald the cream and pour it over the chocolate while the cream is still piping hot. Don't stir it--cover with plastic wrap and let sit for a few minutes. Then when you stir it, the chocolate is already melted and blends evenly into the cream. I also added some espresso powder and Kahlua because I wanted a coffee flavor, but you couldn't really taste the coffee. Often with chocolate and coffee, the coffee ends up just enhancing the chocolate flavor. Who's complaining?

Let the chocolate-cream mixture chill in the fridge for an hour or so and then whip it up using an electric mixture. Whip just until you get some body to the mousse. If you over-whip it, the mousse gets grainy (which you can correct by adding more cream. Who's complaining?).

Fill a pastry bag with the mousse and pipe it onto one of the phyllo cookies. Top with another cookie and you've got yourself a nice little treat! I melted some white chocolate and piped it onto the tops of the sandwiches for a little artistic flourish.

There ya go! Midnight snack of champions, I say.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rollin' rollin' rollin', keep that rally rollin'!!

One of the best advantages to working at the Noodle Factory is being in a primo localation for any Happenings of Interest in the downtown area. Point in fact: The Red Sox Rolling Rally! And because of COURSE I'm a die-hard Red Sox fan, of COURSE I HAD to go down to watch the rally of COURSE. I mean, like, duh! We're in Boston, people!

So please pardon my momentary lapse into Red Sox Fan-dom. We'll be back to our regularly scheduled Daisy Dukes and Culinary School updates in a moment.

The Rally View from my office. Crazy fans started lining up at about 8am. ETA of the rally? 11:30am:

And Mr. Terry "El Hombre" Francona hisself, looking quite pensive and reflective on his win:
And I had to include this shot because that VERY NICE AND NOT AT ALL ANNOYING lady in front of me so perfectly masked Francona's face with her enthusiastic thumbs up. How did she do that?:

Josh Beckett and his smirk:

Curt Schilling givin' it up for the crowd while Josh types a text message:

Drop Kick Murphy's:

Manny and Ortiz sharing a special moment:


And last but not least, my boyfriend Mike Lowell:P.S. Mike and I were steady waaaaay before the whole MVP thing. We've definitely been an item since at least mid-season.